Welcome to my stop on the Ylva-Bywater Blog Hop! In case you’re just joining us, we’ve already had posts from Jove Belle, Rachel Spangler, Cheryl Head, Gill McKnight, Baxter Clare Trautman, and Carol Rosenfeld.
Today, I want to write about the second novel, and its relation to expectations. My first novel, Barring Complications, was a “legal thriller,” or at least, this is what my publisher and a couple of reviews called it. I’ll definitely take it—the story follows a Supreme Court Justice, an attorney, and a gay marriage case. Along the way, some crazy homophobes do some stalking, and there’s a bit of suspense.
It would be understandable to expect my second novel to be another legal thriller, but not so much. When I first started writing fiction, I made a couple of promises to myself. I never wanted to be the kind of writer who churns out the same story every time, packaged differently—a romance with two cops, a romance with two lawyers, a romance between a cop and a lawyer. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of writing—as a reader, in fact, there are times when I quite enjoy knowing exactly what I’m going to get. But this whole endeavor is an opportunity to stretch myself creatively in ways that my day job doesn’t allow, so I wanted to try something completely different for my second novel, Stowe Away.
Stowe Away is a lot slower than Barring Complications, and intentionally so. I’ve been calling it a meditation on coming of age, on mother-daughter relationships, and on first love. It’s not at all about the law and highly-driven characters who have a single goal in mind (legalizing gay marriage). Sam, Stowe Away’s protagonist, probably wishes she were a character in Barring Complications, but she’s just a normal person, with normal-person anxieties and flaws. In some ways, she’s her own worst enemy, because aren’t we all sometimes? But I think (hope!) she’s also sweetly endearing and entirely relatable.
I won’t always write meditations on coming of age—my next novel is the sequel to Barring Complications, called Benched, and it addresses what comes after “happily ever after.” But I won’t always write legal thrillers either. I recently did a quick chat with the ladies of the Cocktail Hour, who said my books are “romance, plus.” While I might change the pacing, tone, themes, and conflicts I write about, this will stay constant: I’ll always write novels that are about romance, plus something else, too.